Our attention was recently drawn to a couple of very interesting links.
The first link is to a blog that asks of Mebyon Kernow why it has a view on anything more than the internal affairs of Cornwall:
“…the MK manifesto is littered with ‘policies’ relating to national and global issues over which the party will never have any influence. It starts with MK’s ‘mission statement’: ‘Mebyon Kernow is a modern and progressive political party, campaigning for a better deal for Cornwall and a fairer, more equitable World.’ It was all looking good right up to those last six words. I’m sure many of us share their desire for a ‘fairer, more equitable World’ but in that quest, wouldn’t you be better off supporting organisations like Oxfam or the UNHCR? They are probably in a better position to deliver it than Mebyon Kernow.”
It’s a fair question and one that we too need to ask ourselves from time to time.
Strategically, there are two sound answers to the question. One is that a party whose long-term aims include having its own MPs at Westminster must be willing to engage with the full range of political issues, regardless of how much influence it currently wields. Or else lose votes to other parties that are willing. The other is that in a globalised world we must be alert to the indirect consequences that globalisation has for us, even as we do our bit to put globalisation into reverse. Another, tactical answer is that nationalist and regionalist parties have deliberately emphasised their outward-looking stance in order to refute allegations of chauvinism, isolationism and racism. Unionists and centralists fling such mud routinely, even though it would stick far more readily to themselves.
We believe that Wessex has the right to as much self-government as it wishes. We don’t think that would ever extend to independence but it’s not for us to say what future generations may think. As regionalists we’re comfortable with the idea that some wider decisions may best be made collectively, so long as we believe that it’s in our interests for this to be so. It’s not the case then that Wessex – or Cornwall for that matter – can only have a political movement that debates dog bins and bus shelters, and little more. Our voice has been silenced too long for us to allow others simply to assume that they have the right to speak on our behalf in the UK, the EU, or the UN. It’s our job to speak up for ourselves on every issue and to relate it back to our core beliefs.
Can the Wessex tail wag the world dog? Obviously not, but we can align ourselves with wider causes that benefit us, that help spread the values of political, economic and cultural decentralisation.
One such is the idea of the optimised, steady-state economy, which we have mentioned before, and which is the subject of the second link. The table there is a real call to action for those dissatisfied with the status quo. We need to take the crisis element out of economics, because – don’t panic – as everyone from Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four to Klein in The Shock Doctrine has indicated, the engineering of perpetual crisis is how social control is maintained.
Ultimately, however, we must not lose sight of our primary goal. It is very easy to be taken in by those who insist that everyone, everywhere, has to sink their particularisms in a unified campaign to topple the global power elite. And do we get our particularisms back afterwards? Not if history is any guide.
So there’s a balance to be struck between putting Wessex first and acknowledging the impact the wider context has. Between minding our own business (as much as possible) and showing solidarity (where we can be sure our understanding and empathy really are well-directed). Thinking globally, acting locally, but above all planning (and organising) regionally. Wessex: 95% of the effort, all the other causes: 5%. That sounds about right. But we do need to add that spice to life, if only to have the tools with which to paint a picture of a better Wessex than the one we inhabit today.